...and one big announcement!

Having only started running with any regularity in 2019, I've been keeping track of all my runs using a popular app called Strava. It's an easy way of recording some basic statistics including route, distance, pace, and elevation data. It was interesting to note that during the month of July I passed a number of milestones:

  • 100: Total runs in 2020
  • 100: Hours spent running in 2020
  • 1,000: Kilometres run in 2020
  • 200: Total runs since January 2019
  • 2,000: Kilometres run in all that time!

The reality is that many / most of those kilometres have been fairly uninspiring pavement-bashing, but thankfully not all of them. My longer weekend runs in July followed the recent pattern of being trail-based - heading inland to explore the treasures of the nearby South Downs and environs. The variety of landscape and vista that can be experienced in the space of a couple of hours is remarkable, and makes these outings really enjoyable - despite the additional physical effort required to handle the uphill sections! The routes are generally less busy than pavements nearer home, and I tend to encounter fewer pedestrians - but there are occasionally other obstacles to overcome...

Late July into early August is a popular season for all sorts of summer events, including Christian conferences and exhibitions. The Keswick Convention was established 1875, and nowadays normally takes place over a three week period each year. I've attended the convention to represent Feba in the 'Base Camp' exhibition area since 2014, but the current restrictions on large gatherings meant that this year's event was cancelled in its regular format and replaced with a virtual programme - 'Virtually Keswick Convention' (VKC) - offering a wide range of content for various ages, all of which is still available free of charge for anyone to access. So - having already booked our self catering accommodation, my family and I took the opportunity of having a holiday in the beautiful Lake District regardless.

We watched the live-streamed morning and evening VKC meetings from the flat we'd rented, but there was ample time to explore too. I managed three decent runs: a lakeside path around Derwentwater (15.4km); a lowland loop to the northwest of Keswick (11.3km); and a one-way route from Keswick through Borrowdale to Seathwaite (19.1km). The first two of those were with my elder son (- who graciously trotted along comfortably at an easy pace to accompany his old man!), but the third was solo. All three were tough but great fun and very rewarding in different ways. The only real pressure was knowing that my bus back to Keswick was an hourly service, and several sections of that run proved to be rather more challenging than expected! Thankfully, I made the bus with literally just a few minutes to spare - but sufficient to buy a cup of tea from a small stall at a farm next to the bus stop!

The second week of my annual leave was spent based at home. It was a very hot spell which made for some delightful trips to the beach, but made also for some uncomfortable running. I had intended to do a 29km course on the Friday morning so was up early for a breakfast at 6.00am so that I could set off at 7.30am in an effort to avoid the most intense heat of the day. The first half was OK - certainly warm (- the first time I've ever refilled my water bottles en route) but manageable. The next few kilometres, however, became increasingly hard work as things got hotter. I therefore decided to do the 'sensible' thing and abort once I'd completed the half marathon distance. I found a fabulous local cafe and treated myself to some refreshment before being collected by my relieved and very understanding wife!

Ever since the start of lockdown, the organisers of the London Marathon have been releasing updates in the form of occasional official announcements. In late June, they signalled that their next update would be shared on Tuesday 28th July. Given that progress in relation to large events had been slow in the intervening period, the general consensus was that a further postponement (i.e. pushed back further than October date) - or even a cancellation for 2020 - was likely. With only really two months to go until the target date, a decision had to be made. Then on 27th July they issued a brief statement saying that they weren't quite ready to make a final decision - citing ongoing dialogue with various authorities, but they promised all would be clarified within ten days...

Understandably - but disappointingly - the marathon 'in the usual format' was indeed cancelled, announced on the very same day as my aborted long run. The organisers were offering all previously-registered runners the option to take part in a virtual event on 4th October whilst also guaranteeing a place in a future 'proper' London Marathon event. I deliberated for a few days before re-attempting the 29km course; thankfully, I completed it in cooler conditions without any problem, and therefore decided I would go ahead and register for the 4th October!

With only six weeks of training left now (- at time of writing), I have to make sure I complete a couple more long runs of up to 32km as well as maintaining my midweek schedule - whilst hopefully avoiding injury. I need also to decide what course I will run on 4th October. Realistically, I'm probably looking for something that is road-based (not trail) and relatively close to home. The easing of lockdown restrictions since my April marathon run means that I could potentially have family assisting with some refreshment stations and friends could lend morale support en route too. If you have any particular route suggestions, then please do drop me a note. I'll get planning, and will include details in next month's blog in case anyone would like to cheer me on!

So - all being well, I'll actually run two marathons this year rather than the one I had originally intended. The motivation for the original challenge was to raise funds for Feba. I am really grateful for people's extremely generous gifts - especially at a time of some financial uncertainty. I haven't been promoting this recently, but my fundraising effort has now reached just over £3,700, and almost £4,500 including Gift Aid. Raising funds for Feba does make this worthwhile for me personally, and it really does make a tremendous difference to know that I'm not doing this alone. Knowing that I'm putting the marathon effort in twice, however, I'd really like to surpass the original target - so if you could possibly please make a donation of whatever value then I would be so very grateful. Thank you!

Finally, please do send any comments, questions, encouragements, or suggestions using the Contact Form or calling the office - it would be lovely to hear from you.

If you would like to sponsor me, please see my fundraising page.

To read more about my marathon efforts, please click here.

Thank you!

Photo credits: Keswick, Fresian, Borrowdale, Eggs Royale © Bob Chambers.